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How to Fix Cakey Makeup Without Removing It

No one should have to suffer through a makeup look they don’t love.
October 04, 2023


You’ve completed your perfect makeup look only to find that your beat has entered caked-on makeup territory once you’ve viewed it under different lighting. Unfortunately, when you’re wearing face makeup, cakiness is a very real issue that can occur, and if you’re on your way out the door, you may not have a lot of time to take it all off and redo it. 

Thankfully, all hope isn’t lost. If you notice that you’re sporting cakey foundation or your face powder needs a bit more blending, there are ways to fix it without removing all your makeup. Read on to learn how to fix cakey makeup without starting your application process from scratch.

Why Is My Foundation Cakey?

If your foundation looks cakey, there’s probably a simple reason. One of the main culprits of this makeup mishap is applying too much product. We totally get it — you want to make sure you provide your face with even coverage. However, that doesn’t mean that you have to overdo it with foundation.

A lot of people go in with so much product, but you want to build your coverage — not lacquer it. Professional makeup artists never start complexion like that, so take your cues from them — not what you see on social media. Oftentimes when you do your makeup, you won’t need more than one to two pumps of foundation or a few swipes of powder. 

Whether you use a makeup brush, makeup blender, or your fingers to perfect your complexion, you want to make sure you blend in a small amount of foundation at a time to avoid looking overdone. When it comes to how to apply foundation the right way, just remember that less is best, you can always add more if you need it.

Other reasons for cakey foundation include dry skin, not layering your makeup in the correct order, and not using the right skin care products. Skipping out on exfoliation is another factor that can cause cakiness. Always make sure you prep your skin by exfoliating and moisturizing so makeup goes on smoothly.

4 Tips for Fixing Cakey Foundation

We all commit makeup mistakes from time to time. So, if you end up with cakiness, it’s essential to have a few fixes in your back pocket. Here are four ways to prevent cakey makeup.

1. Blot Excess Oil

Cakiness is often accompanied by oily skin, and if either of those is of concern to you, it’s a good idea to keep blotting sheets on hand. When you notice your makeup looks cakey or your skin looks shiny, gently blot with a sheet to absorb the excess oils. 

2. Correct With a Makeup Blender

A makeup blender or sponge can help soften and blend your makeup to put an end to cakiness. Dampen the sponge (don't soak it) then press and bounce it on your skin to manipulate and move things out of the way. It's almost like a magic eraser.

3. Spritz With Face Mist

Face mists are one of the most enjoyable parts of any beauty routine and they’re also really useful. It only takes a few seconds to spritz your face and fix cakey makeup, especially if you use powder makeup products because the moisture from the spray can help melt those into the skin. 

4. Loosen With Steam

Not surprisingly, steam can also help loosen up stiff, caked on makeup. It may sound really unusual, but experts say showering after your makeup process can be beneficial if your foundation is cakey.  

Taking a shower will help break down some of the stiffness and your makeup will be a lot more emollient. You might have to use your blender to move things around but the steam will soften it, and you can lightly set it with a loose powder afterwards. If you’ve already showered, try boiling a small pot of water. When the water is hot enough to emit steam, put it into a bowl and carefully let the steam waft towards your face to help loosen up some of that foundation.

5 Ways to Avoid Cakey Makeup

We all know that avoiding cakey makeup in the first place is the best option for keeping your makeup routine moving along without incident. If you’d like to cross cakey makeup off the list of beauty issues that plague you, check out these five ways to avoid cakiness altogether.

1. Don’t Rush Steps

If your foundation frequently looks cakey, the problem might actually be connected to your skin care routine. Make sure you’re giving your skin care time to absorb. Instead of applying foundation immediately after moisturizer and SPF, you’ll want to give face lotions and creams a minute or two to dry before moving on. And don’t forget to use face primer, which helps you create a smooth base and avoid a cakey finish. If you need recommendations, try L’Oréal Paris Prime Lab line because the line has options for different skin concerns, including the Pore Minimizer, Matte Setter, Redness Eraser and Dullness Reducer.
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2. Choose the Right Foundation for Your Skin Type

Some foundations are more prone to cakiness than others. If you think the formula you’re using could be at fault for your ruined makeup looks, it’s time to switch to a lightweight option. We love L’Oréal Paris Infallible 24 Hour Fresh Wear Foundation, which has a long-wearing yet lightweight formula. It also has medium to full coverage that easily builds up without looking cakey. 

You also want to be mindful of how a formula will show up on your skin type. If you have dry skin you may want to avoid certain powder foundations that will make dry patches look more pronounced and contribute to cakiness. L’Oréal Paris Infallible Up to 24H Fresh Wear in a Powder covers like a liquid and is suitable for all skin types, including dry and sensitive skin. 

3. Use the Right Tools

How you apply your makeup matters. Instead of using your fingers, we recommend reaching for a designated foundation brush or makeup blender for a smooth, non-cakey finish. If you use a dense brush to apply your foundation, that could also be why your makeup looks cakey and heavy. Instead, switch to a stippling brush with less finely packed bristles to create a lighter look.

4. Use Waterproof Concealer

Like it or not, concealer can look cakey, too, especially as your foundation and concealer begin to settle into lines and shift around. For that reason, using a waterproof concealer that’s sure to stay in place is a must. Grab L’Oréal Paris Infallible Full Wear Concealer Waterproof, and dot it on under your eyes, using just enough to cover any visible dark circles.

5. Use a Light Hand

The number one cause of cakey makeup is layering on too much product. To avoid this, apply a small amount of foundation (start with one pump or one swipe) and add more as needed — remember, you can easily add more foundation, and while you can technically take it away once you’ve applied it, it’s going to add more time (and effort) to your routine. remember to use a light hand when applying face makeup, as a little bit of foundation, concealer, and face powder can go a long way. 

Next: Do You Apply Concealer or Foundation First?

Photographer: Nelson Huang, Art Director: Hannah Packer, Producer: Becca Solovay, Beauty Content Director: Shalwah Evans, Visual Designer: Sarah Duvivier, Wardrobe Stylist: Alexis Badiyi, Wardrobe Assistant: Jazmine Alzado, Makeup Artist: Jonet Williamson, Hair Stylist: Akihisa Yamaguchi, Digi Tech: Jacky Jiang, Photo Assistant: Tyler Andrews, Model: Mecca Allah

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